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RMD-13-04: Consolidated Pest Risk Management Document for pest plants regulated by Canada
Appendix 7A: Pest Risk Assessment Summary for Echium plantagineum (Paterson's curse)

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CFIA Pest Risk Assessment

English Common Names: Paterson's curse, purple viper's bugloss, salvation Jane, blue weed, Lady Campbell weed, purple bugloss, purple echium, riverina bluebell, dwarf blue bedder.

French Common Names: Vipérine à feuilles de plantain, vipérine faux plantain

Common Names: Echium plantagineum L. (LAMIALES: Boraginaceae), known as Echium plantagineum, is an annual or biennial broadleaved weed. It has been widely introduced around the world as a garden plant and pasture species. More recently, interest in this species has increased due to a unique fatty acid composition that includes both gamma linolenic acid and stearidonic acid. The seed oil has potential for use in health food, cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries. Some of the major issues surrounding Echium plantagineum include its ability to dominate pastures in its exotic range, toxicity to livestock, and potential control issues due to herbicide resistance.

Description: Echium plantagineum L. (LAMIALES: Boraginaceae), known as Echium plantagineum, is an annual or biennial broad-leaved weed with purple flowers.

Distribution: Echium plantagineum has a broad, circum-Mediterranean native distribution. It is particularly successful in invading other countries with Mediterranean-type climates, and has become invasive in Australia, South Africa, Chile, Uruguay, Argentina, and Brazil. In Australia, it has invaded an estimated 33 million hectares. There have also been a number of introductions of Echium plantagineum to the United States, and it is currently invasive in California.

There are records of at least three prior occurrences of Echium plantagineum in Canada: Brandon, Manitoba; Vineland, Ontario; and near St. John's, Newfoundland. It does not appear to have persisted at any of these locations. More recently, Echium plantagineum has been grown for several years in field trials near Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Likelihood of introduction: Echium plantagineum has been imported into Canada and there is further interest in importing this species for commercial production.

Establishment potential: Echium plantagineum favours warm temperate climates. Information on the native geographic distribution of this species suggests that it could potentially establish in four plant hardiness zones in Canada (USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 5-8). Although less likely to thrive there, this species may be able to establish in harsher climatic zones as well. Field trials in North America indicate that Echium plantagineum can flower and set seed up to Zone 2 or 3.

Spread potential: Echium plantagineum has both a high reproductive potential and high dispersal potential. This species produces seed over much of the growing season, which can result in large seed banks of as many as 30,000 seeds/m2 under favourable conditions. Seeds germinate under a wide range of temperatures and can remain viable for 10 years in the soil. There are numerous pathways through which Echium plantagineum may disperse, including attachment to animal wool or fur, as ingested seed, and via contaminated vehicles, equipment, hay, grain, soil, or gravel. It has also been known as a cereal and forage seed contaminant. Evidence from its exotic range also indicates a high potential for spread of Echium plantagineum.

Potential economic impact: Echium plantagineum has already caused major economic impacts in other countries where introduced. In Australia, lost pasture productivity, control costs and wool contamination due to Echium plantagineum are estimated to cost sheep and cattle producers $250 million AUD annually. At least six potential negative economic impacts have been identified for Echium plantagineum: pasture degradation, livestock and crop yield losses, hay and seed contamination, and increased costs of control.

Potential environmental impact: Echium plantagineum has the potential to have serious impacts on the environment. The most significant of these are considered to be the potential negative impacts on animal and human health due to the plant's toxic alkaloids and the potential consequences of herbicide resistance in this species. In addition, it appears that Echium plantagineum has the potential to affect ecosystem processes (erosion processes, fertility) and community composition.

Recommendations: Specific phytosanitary measures are strongly recommended. Therefore, it is recommended that Echium plantagineum be added to an official list of species that are not allowed to be imported into Canada. Furthermore, it is recommended that Echium plantagineum be considered for inclusion on Canada's Regulated Pest List and on the Weed Seeds Order as Class 1 Prohibited Noxious.

CFIA Pest Risk Assessment Update

Additional information relating to the CFIA pest risk assessment was gathered in April 2008 as a result of questions arising from a 30-day consultation on the initial version of this RMD. The summary from this document (Castro 2008) is incorporated below.

Other Pest Risk Assessments

A pest risk assessment for Echium plantagineum by the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA 2004) indicated that this species received the highest possible rating ("A") according to the ODA Noxious Weed Rating System. ODA also assessed Echium plantagineum using the USDA-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Weed Risk Assessment Guidelines. The cumulative risk score was 35 out of a possible 37 points, indicating potential for rapid dispersal and growth rates as well as negative economic impacts to certain agricultural industries

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